Henri Nouwen writes,
“Community is not possible without the willingness to forgive one another ‘seventy-seven times’ (Matthew 18:22). Forgiveness is the cement of community life. Forgiveness holds us together through good and bad times, and It allows us to grow in mutual love. But what is there to forgive or to ask forgiveness for? As people who have hearts that long for perfect love, we have to forgive one another for not being able to give or receive that perfect love in our everyday lives. Our many needs constantly interfere with our desire to be there for the other unconditionally. Our love is always limited by spoken or unspoken conditions. What needs to be forgiven? We need to forgive one another for not being God!” (Bread for the journey, 1996)
I could not agree more that it is forgiveness holding people together. It is forgiveness that keeps us going. We need to forgive each other and ourselves for not being God.
I was supposed to attend my brother’s wedding and visit my extended family in Korea this week. Fortunately, my brother was able to go ahead with his wedding, but I could not be there for my brother due to the recent virus surge. I understand that it is a reality many are going through. And I know it is not my fault or anyone’s fault. But I find myself in need of accepting and offering forgiveness for not being able to go. We need forgiveness always, not just when we make a mistake but even when we make the right choice. We make our promises and plans, but they are far from perfect. Planning and replanning is always a part of our life. I had planned to finish writing and recording the sermon by Thursday. I am still working on it. I had planned to spend a day resting and playing, but I am still planning. If our plan does not work out, it is okay to make a new plan.
I believe we need to offer and ask for more forgiveness, especially during this pandemic. We need to forgive ourselves and each other for not being able to do more, at least not as much as we would like to. To forgive and be forgiven is to accept we are not God and need God’s grace each day. Our prayers are with you, all who are struggling. May God’s forgiveness and forgiveness for each other hold us together and empower us to embrace each day graciously.
Rev. Chuck Moon
A version of this message first appeared in the Saturday, January 29, 2022, edition of Tidbits.